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Academic: Pre-Physical Therapy (Pre-Professional)

Pre-Physical Therapy at Calvin College

The goal of the physical therapist is to restore, maintain, and promote health and fitness in patients who have been injured or disabled through accident or illness.  The DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) helps his/her patients to improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disability.  It is an excellent vocation for those who are called to apply their knowledge and compassion in ways which improve the quality of others’ lives.

Pre-PT students

If you are interested in becoming a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy), there are some important things you need to know regarding preparation for DPT school.
  1. Pre-Physical Therapy is NOT a major at the undergraduate level at any college.  Pre-PT students declare a major which allows them to complete the pre-requisite courses required by the DPT schools.  Most often, this major is Kinesiology, Exercise Science, Biology, or Allied Health Science.  As long as you successfully complete the long list of courses which satisfy the DPT programs’ requirements, you can declare almost any major you wish.  At Calvin College, the pre-Physical Therapy advisors are housed in Exercise Science, and the majority of pre-PT students declare a major in Exercise Science. 

  2. The most common (and popular) course of action is to complete a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited undergraduate institution like Calvin, then enter a 3-year DPT program.  Because there is robust competition to gain admission to DPT school, students must be prepared to study hard and excel in most of their coursework.

  3. Calvin College has an articulation agreement with Central Michigan University (CMU), which holds 2 of its yearly positions open for Calvin students. Calvin applicants with an overall GPA of 3.25 or higher and completion of the prerequisite courses will compete only with other Calvin applicants. If there are more than 2 Calvin applicants, the remainder will be placed into the general applicant pool.

  4. While Calvin College does maintain an articulation agreement with Andrews University, very few students select this option.  This option is called a 3-3, meaning you complete your first 3 years of college at Calvin, then transfer for your senior year to Andrews University for a 1-2  DPT program.   After acceptance and completion of the senior year at Andrews, a BS (bachelor’s of science) degree is awarded. Two years later, the DPT is awarded (after the sixth and final year).  Thus, you would not complete an undergraduate degree at Calvin College.

  5. Beginning in 2020, only Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs will be accredited, so most schools that currently offer masters of science (MS) degrees in physical therapy are currently developing DPT programs. Visit the American Physical Therapy Association for a list of accredited programs.  To identify schools who offer a degree in physical therapy visit the American Physical Therapy Association.

Schools in Michigan with Accredited PT Programs

Since prerequisites vary among different programs, it’s best to check out each school’s Web site. You could also benefit from contacting the program advisors at Calvin,Nancy Meyer or Julie Walton, soon to ensure that the appropriate courses are taken.

You should know

Physical therapy is a very competitive field. Many programs require a 3.0 minimum grade point average and most require experience in the field of physical therapy. You can gain this experience as an employee or a volunteer.  Volunteer experience can be arranged through the Service-Learning Center at Calvin College.

Shadow a physical therapist

Opportunities to shadow physical therapists in various areas of Michigan can be obtained by contacting the Director of Admissions for the CMU program, Clint Fitzpatrick

Learn more about the pre-physical therapy program (PDF 15 Kb)